Last weekend we had friends visiting and I thought it would be awesome to do something new (new to us) and different from the usual Placencia routine of beach, eat, repeat. So I planned a little adventure out in Cayo to shake things up. We traded sand, sea, and coral for forest, rivers, and caves… within a 3 hour drive! Isn’t Belize the best?!? Here’s how to get to the Mountain Pine Ridge area from Placencia and where to stop to fuel up, stretch your legs, and fill your belly on the way.
Placencia to the Southern Highway towards Dangriga
Leave early and drive carefully. It takes me a good 45 minutes just to get off this dang peninsula because of all the GD speed bumps. I know I’ve ranted before about Belize’s absurd affinity for speed bumps/humps/and pedestrian ramps but I will not discontinue my diatribe until I’ve won over the public and more importantly, public works department, and we cancel speed bumps. They’re freaking stupid and eco-unfriendly and can be more dangerous than they are helpful. Instead of throwing down a buncha dumba$$ speed bumps, how about enforcing some simple traffic laws and encouraging people to not drive like total A-holes? How ’bout that?!
Anyway…. take a right at the roundabout to head towards Dangriga then a left on to the Hummingbird Highway and pull in to the Xiabel Gas Station to fuel up and provision yourself with road trip snacks. They have the best snacks!
Hummingbird towards Belmopan
I love this stretch of road between Dangriga and Belmopan- it’s so scenic! I’ve written about places to stop along the Hummingbird Highway before but this trip we opted to stretch our legs and take a dip at Billy Barquedier National Park because most of the people in our caravan had never been to this particular waterfall before. It was the perfect reprieve; easy to reach and very refreshing. I forget precisely what the park fee is but its nominal like the rest of Belize’s parks; I want to say $10bz for foreign visitors and $2 for Belizeans, something like that.
Western Highway to the Chiquibul Rd
There’s plenty of places to find food in Belmopan (if you’re crunched for time you can pop in to Quality Poultry’s Chicken Express- they even have a drive thru!) but we opted to blast straight through the capital city (don’t blink or you might miss it) and continue on for lunch at Trey’s Barn & Grill near Teakettle. This is a wonderful option for small groups with kids because they have a playground and menu options for meat-eaters as well as vegetarians.
Chiquibul Rd to Mariposa Jungle Lodge
We were staying at Mariposa Jungle Lodge for the weekend because they had a great “off-season” special. The property is really lovely and the staff are so welcoming; the resort is a good 30 minutes from San Ignacio but makes a convenient base camp for doing the MPR area things like Barton Creek, Rio Frio Cave, Big Rock Falls, and even Caracol. I was sorta pissed off at Mariposa because they were real hard a$$es with their cancelation policy and the family that I made these plans with had an emergency and it was looking like they wouldn’t be able to travel. I’d paid in full for our rooms and 1 week out from our arrival date I inquired about changing the dates of the reservations since we didn’t think they could make it. I didn’t want to cancel but I was hoping to postpone. Now, I’m a little hotelier and I have a “policy” but I basically never enforce it. I mean, it isn’t worth the bad karma in my opinion. And in this case, I wasn’t even asking for a refund just a date change or credit towards a future stay. But they said no-go and I thought that was really discourteous. Since they were playing hardball with my reservation I was going to go all alone or try to find someone else to invite but thankfully our friends were able to resolve their crisis at the very last moment and travel after all. It all worked out and Mitch enjoyed his birthday weekend getaway with our buddies.